Is my Jack Russell pregnant?

Stages and tell-tale signs of pregnancy

If you've never spayed your female Jack Russell, there are certain tell-tale signs when she becomes pregnant and goes through all the stages.

Of course we recommend that you spay your female Jack Russell when you adopt her as a puppy, but ultimately it's your choice. Just remember that you'll have to deal with a litter of puppies every time your pet gets pregnant, which can be an emotional roller coaster.

Dog pregnancy is a lot like human pregnancy in many ways, only it takes much less time - up to 60 days in some breeds. However, your mileage may vary, and it might be a good idea to pop over to the vet if the signs detailed below get very intense for your Jack Russell.

Stage I: Early gestation signs (weeks 1-3)

During the first few weeks, your Jack Russell will experience nausea, sometimes vomiting and whining. Her appetite will change, and like many human women she might want to eat less food instead of more.

Parts of her body associated with feeding her young will also thicken during this period, in preparation for the introduction of her puppies.

If you want a concrete answer during this early pregnancy period, ask your vet to check if your dog's blood has signs of relaxin. This hormone is produced in greater quantities during canine pregnancy.

Stage II: More food please! (~ week 4)

After your dog's morning sickness phase has passed, she will have a greatly enhanced appetite - remember she has to help a litter of puppies grow inside her body.

Increase her food intake, and be sure to give her plenty of cooked meats and vegetables so she has a complete mixture of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. I would hesitate recommending any specialised vitamin or mineral supplements - the main thing you need to be worried about is her getting enough protein to create her babies.

Usually about a month into the pregnancy, you will be able to detect her puppies' heartbeats with a stethoscope. By this point her belly will have become more full and round. This is a completely natural protective measure by the body to help protect the babies from impact.

Stage III: Almost there! (up to 45 days)

It will become obvious your Jack Russell is pregnant, as her belly becomes fully round and padded. Clearly this will limit her mobility, so it will become difficult to move her around.

By holding your Jack Russell's belly you will be able to feel the puppies moving around. An x-ray from the vet will tell you how many puppies she will give birth to.

Stage IV: The puppies are coming! (time varies)

At any point your Jack Russell will give birth to her litter, but when? You'll know the puppies are coming when she starts getting anxious, moving around a lot, and possibly whimpering.

She'll 'nest' by lying down in a quiet and safe spot in the house. While a beautiful and natural process, it can also cause quite a mess, so it's best to prepare a spot in the house for her to minimise this. If you can afford it it's also a good idea to ask a vet to supervise when the stork arrives, if only to keep the new mummy safe.

Litter of Jack Russell puppies

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